What is the Canadian Quality Assurance (CQA) Program and how was it created?
The Canadian Quality Assurance Program is the Canadian Hog Industry's on-farm program to support the production of wholesome pork.
In the fall of 1995, the Canadian Pork Council brought together a technical team to explore the development of an on-farm food safety program. The original objective was to have a complete program, including food safety, product quality and production integrity.
An update of CQA® activities may be found in the 2007 Program Update.
What is the purpose of CQA?
The goals of CQA are:
to assure customers at home and abroad that Canadian pork producers are following standards of production that promote a safe and wholesome product
to maintain and enhance competitiveness (pork markets are international and competitive, and other countries have quality assurance programs)
Today’s food is safer for the consumer than it ever has been in the past. However, there are always hazards which must be recognized and dealt with on the farm. While we can never eliminate hazards we can minimize and control them.
The study group who developed the CQA™ program identified the following potential hazards in pork production:
Pathogenic bacteria (e.g. Salmonella)
Antibacterial drug residues
Development of drug resistant bacteria
Parasites (including trichinella and toxoplasmosis)
Metals (e.g. cadmium, lead, mercury, selenium and zinc)
Other drug residues
Consumers are concerned about food safety and are looking for assurance that the food they consume is as safe and wholesome as possible.
CQA addresses all of these issues and provides opportunities for everyone involved in the industry to work together to provide high quality, safe and wholesome food.
How does the Canadian Quality Assurance Program work?
The Canadian Pork Council owns and is responsible for the development of the program, with the help of its CQA Advisory Committee and CQA Technical Working Group.
Provincial organizations, such as Alberta Pork, are responsible for program delivery and administration, as well as for validator training. Producers are responsible for the implementation and upkeep of the program for their farm.
Producers who enroll in the program are supplied with the following CQA materials: the CQA Producer Manual; an On-Farm Quality Assessment form; and Injection Techniques for Swine poster.
The CQA Producer Manual is one of the most comprehensive and useful collections of knowledge on safe and appropriate management practices in print. It covers topics ranging from biosecurity to vaccines and is available only to participants in the program. The manual introduces the program, presents the Good Production Practices, and lists all of the drugs and biologicals which have been approved for swine in Canada.
The On-Farm Quality Assessment Form (a 61 page looseleaf) helps producers put the program to work on their farms. It provides the opportunity for producers to describe and summarize their management practices including handling of medicated feed, needles and injection techniques and medication and vaccine usage.
Producers create their on-farm safety plan using the On-Farm Assessment Form and maintain records. Each producer will then contact a validator (trained by their provincial delivery agent) who will conduct a systematic and independent examination to determine whether the activities and results comply with program requirements and thus whether he or she should be recognized by the program.
Validation: A Key Part of CQA
Validation (auditing and inspection) gives credibility to the program. Highly qualified professionals (Veterinarians or Animal Scientists) visit producers' farms to determine whether they are meeting the requirements of the CQA program. A Validator ensures that the program is implemented as documented and that the program is effective in controlling or minimizing specific hazards.
Validators do not validate farms; they make recommendations regarding validation to the provincial delivery agent.
Complete information on validation (and becoming a validator) may be obtained from Alberta Pork.
Who benefits from these programs?
Everyone benefits from effective quality assurance programs.
Producers receive high quality educational materials and assistance to help them produce high quality products safely and efficiently. More effective use of medication and better record keeping also contribute to higher returns.
Processors benefit because they have improved assurances that the products they purchase are safe and high in quality, and that the on-farm safety programs complement their in-plant programs.
Consumers benefit because they are assured that producers are using the best quality assurance programs available: and they are able to buy high quality, safe products.
What is Animal Care Assessment (ACA)?
The Animal Care Assessment tool was introduced by the Canadian Pork Council to help producers evaluate and improve animal care practices on their farms. It helps producers examine stockmanship, feeding and watering, equipment and housing on their farms.
The program was developed by a team of hog producers, producer organizations, animal care researchers and has been reviewed and supported by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Canadian Meat Council, the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.
The complete Animal Care Assessment Manual and other supplementary publications are available for download www.cqa-aqc.ca/aca/index_e.html; they may also be obtained from the Alberta Pork office (phone: (780) 474-8288).